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an endless succession of beans and nuts.

Pope Benedict and Barbara Walters join the Pelé death triad.

This is one of the greatest death triads I have ever seen. Perhaps the greatest.

Goodbye to 3 greats, in 3 different fields — religion, journalism, and sports. All 3 died after a long, productive life — Pelé, a little young, at 82, Walters at 93, and the Pope at 95.

Taking the high road.

You've probably seen this 1977 interview before. This is a communications professor dissecting it:

Do you think he should have given Walters some credit for bringing out the best in Dolly? You could say that Walters behaved without vanity, lowering herself, to elicit what was a brilliant performance from Dolly. But that's not how the professor grades it.

What the new editor of Vanity Fair — Radhika Jones — wore to her first meeting with staff.

A navy blue dress that Women's Wear Daily described as "strewn with zippers" and tights "covered with illustrated, cartoon foxes."

WWD retreats into quoting Anna Wintour (who is not only the editor of Vogue editor but also the artistic Director of Condé Nast of which Vanity Fair is a part). Wintour only made a gentle gibe, "I’m not sure if I should include a new pair of tights in her welcome basket."

I'm more interested in interpreting the metaphors. What can you say about a navy blue dress strewn with zippers? It says women have the power now. The zipper's strongest association is with the fly on a man's pants. We might say a man with uncontrolled sexual compulsions has a "zipper problem," as in "Jackie Collins Knew Bill Clinton Had A ‘Zipper Problem’" (HuffPo, 2011)("I remember, before Clinton was president, I was sitting at a dinner in Beverly Hills and one of his aides was there and told me that he was definitely going to be president, except for one problem: the zipper problem.... They knew way before he was elected!").

And then a navy blue dress... I think of Monica Lewinsky.

That dress was strewn with Bill Clinton's genetic material.

Therefore I interpret Radhika Jones's dress as wry political commentary: the end of the political subjugation of women, the end of silencing — zip your lip, not mine — and a new era of female domination.

Now, let's consider the item of clothing that was even more attention-getting and metaphor-pushing than a blue dress strewn with zippers: tights covered in foxes.

What do foxes mean? When the political website FiveThirtyEight chose a fox as its corporate logo, Nate Silver quoted the Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

So there were many zippers on the dress and many foxes on the tights, which is a message of multiplicity already. But each of the many foxes is also a symbol of knowing many things.

There is, of course, the idea of women as "foxes," which was already laughably sexist when Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin played Festrunk Brothers in 1978 (and Garrett Morris had to explain that you can't talk about American women like that):

I'd say the foxes on Radhika Jones's tights represent a reclaiming of an old diminishment, amplified and multiplied, and complicated by zippers. Foxes run around, finding out about everything, uncovering what is hidden, and zippers enclose while suggesting a sudden, perhaps shocking disclosure. That's all very apt as a message about journalism, and it's an exciting way to say that a woman is now in charge.

ADDED: Also consider that the top-rated meaning for "zipper" at Urban Dictionary is: "A death trap for your dick."

And I created a "zippers" tag and went back and applied it to old posts. I was amused by how many times over the years I've talked about the Brian Regan comedy bit about Zipper, the bad dolphin (in contrast to Flipper) — "Zipper's surly. He is uncaring."

Meade, reading this post, said his first association with zipper was the "zipless fuck" (in Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying"). I had to do some additional retroactive tagging, because I'd only searched for "zipper." Searching for "zipless," I found places where I'd talked about Erica Jong's idea, including one in the context Trump's "Access Hollywood" remarks, from October 8, 2016 (the day after the sudden, shocking disclosure of the tape):
[I]f you watch the whole video, you see him winning with another woman, Arianne Zucker, the one who, in Trump's words, is "hot as shit, in the purple." Zucker is the one who inspired him to say "I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

And in fact, you see the female version of that power trip: The woman plays on the man's sexual interest. Grab them by the crotch. Zucker looks entirely pleased with herself, demands to walk in the center and grabs the arms of both men. If that is what is expected and that is the norm in your workplace, how can you be the cold one who keeps her sexuality to herself?

I invite you to contemplate why this got me thinking about Erica Jong's concept of the "zipless fuck":
The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not "taking" and the woman is not "giving." No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one. 

"There has been much discussion about a media double standard where Republicans are covered differently than Democrats, asked to weigh in on issues the Democrats don't face."

"As a result, when we refuse to take the media's bait, we suffer. I felt it this week when I was asked to weigh in on what other people said and did and what others' beliefs are. If you are looking for answers to those questions, ask those people. I will always choose to focus on what matters to the American people, not what matters to the media."

Writes Scott Walker (in USA Today).

ELSEWHERE: In Politico, Jack Shafer purports to give advice on how to answer the "gotcha" question. He holds up LBJ as a model: "Here you are, alone with the president of the United States and the leader of the free world, and you ask a chicken-shit question like that." Oh, yeah, wouldn't you just love for the Midwestern son of a preacher man to suddenly emit an LBJ-style outburst full of Texas swagger and farm excrement?

And Ron Fournier has a "Defense of Gotcha Questions." He begins:
Years ago, an Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton walked into the state Capitol media room at the end of a hectic legislative session and asked the journalists if we needed anything else from him.  We had asked Clinton questions all day. We were tired. We wanted him to shut up and go home.

So I said, "Yes, governor. I know you don't know much about baseball, but when there's a pop-up behind the third baseman, whose ball is it?" The other reporters snickered. Finally, they figured: a gotcha question Clinton wouldn't answer.
Bill came up with an answer that seemed amiable and made him look good. But I don't think that's a gotcha question. It's just a casual, irrelevant question that might bring out some personality. It's the sort of question Barbara Walters used to be associated with.... What kind of tree are you?

"I think Mr. Sterling is being tested right now by a higher power or being and I’m forced to come to his rescue because he can’t rescue himself."

Says V. Stiviano, interviewed by Barbara Walters:

ADDED: "[A] beautiful black model named Jasmine... asked Sterling if she could take a photo with him..."
... and he responded, "I'm not that popular right now. Are you sure?' Jasmine said she was game...

As for how Jasmine feels about Sterling, she says, "It's 2014. I feel that everyone is a little bit racist and comedians joke about it all the time. But yeah, I do think he's racist."

"Self-esteem. This organ is situated at the vertex or top of the head..."

"... a little above the posterior or sagittal angle of the parietal bones."

In phrenology, self-esteem is: "One of the mental faculties with which an ‘organ’ or ‘bump’ in the cranium is associated; the ‘bump’ itself." That's from the (unlinkable) OED, where I was looking up "self-esteem," after blogging about Monica Lewinsky's 40th birthday and cherry-picking the old Barbara Walters prompt "Where was your self-esteem?"

Monica, had she known phrenology, might have said: Where? It's at the top of my head, of course, a little above the posterior or sagittal angle of the parietal bones.

Too bad I don't have comments or you could supply me with the jokes about Clinton's "organ" and the location of his self-esteem. I won't go there, other than to say that I see that one could. I've got lofty plans for the direction of this blog post.
I want to tell you that the phrenology meaning only goes back to the early 19th century, but the familiar meaning — "Favourable appreciation or opinion of oneself" — can be found in the 17th century, in Book 8 of John Milton's "Paradise Lost" (1667):
For what admir'st thou, what transports thee so,
An outside? fair no doubt, and worthy well
Thy cherishing, thy honouring, and thy love,
Not thy subjection: weigh with her thy self;
Then value: Oft times nothing profits more
Then self esteem, grounded on just and right
Well manag'd; of that skill the more thou know'st,
The more she will acknowledge thee her Head,
And to realities yield all her shows:
Made so adorn for thy delight the more,
So awful, that with honour thou maist love
Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least wise.
But if the sense of touch whereby mankind
Is propagated seem such dear delight
Beyond all other, think the same voutsaf't
To Cattel and each Beast; which would not be
To them made common and divulg'd, if aught
Therein enjoy'd were worthy to subdue
The Soule of Man, or passion in him move.
That's the angel Raphael advising Adam about loving Eve. Here are the crib notes for Book 8, to sketch out the context. "The more she will acknowledge thee her Head" is not about getting blow jobs.

"Where was your self-esteem?"

That's the question Barbara Walters asked Monica Lewinsky in 1999, I'm reading this morning as I belatedly catch up on the news that Lewinsky — once famously young — has passed through the portal into middle age and is 40.

I don't remember what her answer was, but here's something she could have said: My self-esteem was sky high. I was having sex — yes, sex, sex, sex, it sure as hell was sex — with the President of the fucking United States. How about you, Babs?

In 2008, Walters would tattle on herself in a memoir:
["Audition: A Memoir"] includes all the affairs she had – when she was married, when she was single with married men, and when she was single with men you might consider fug who happened to be powerful. Walters promoted the book by confessing to Oprah of an affair 30 years ago with married US senator Edward Brooke. Brooke’s wife passed away 13 years ago, and... an insider claims “she hated Barbara Walters till the day she died” and blamed her for their divorce.
So Senator for Walters. Lewinsky had the President. But then Walters also had Alan Greenspan. She spanned Greenspan:

Self-esteem. It's a highly nuanced topic, but I will nevertheless reduce it to this simple poll.

Who had more self-esteem? free polls 

"This means he’s running for president. He’s showing people he can get his weight in control. It was the one thing holding him back."

Chris Christie got stomach surgery to lose weight. This happened last February, and he went to some effort to keep it secret up until now.

If Christie runs, will a big weight loss after surgery help him be successful? free polls 

I only skimmed the article (cuz I detest Christie), but it sounded like he did it directly after he went on Letterman and did donut shots and said his weight was fine.

Which suggests he might be less than honest. Of course, his conduct in the last year or so also suggests that.
He also did an interview with Barbara Walters in December which engaged with the issue whether a very fat person can be President. I think those 2 performances were done to test public opinion and the surgery is evidence of the results of that test. There was the idea that perhaps people would think that being fat was endearing, humanizing, and part of his overall delightful personality. He went on 2 prominent shows, reaching different demographics, and — in so many words — made the argument for fat acceptance.

I assume internal polling was done, and he was forced to see that the "fat man" image wasn't going to work. He took action. Note that in March, the month after the surgery, he rolled out the saying "Fix it!" At the time, I made fun of him for using that slogan when he's the walking embodiment of the inability to fix something. In fact, when he was emoting for the Barbara Walters demographic, she asked him why he's fat, and he said: "If I could figure it out, I'd fix it."
Taking the high road.What the new editor of Vanity Fair — Radhika Jones — wore to her first meeting with staff. "There has been much discussion about a media double standard where Republicans are covered differently than Democrats, asked to weigh in on issues the Democrats don't face."

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